The Scottish Government has “missed an opportunity” to tackle poverty in its budget for 2019-2020, according to charities.
In Holyrood on Wednesday, Finance Secretary Derek Mackay announced funding of more than £825 million, as part of a total investment in excess of £3 billion, to deliver 50,000 affordable homes over the course of the current Scottish Parliament.
Mr Mackay also said the government would invest £50 million in the Ending Homelessness Together fund, with another £50 million going towards the Tackling Child Poverty Fund.
Neil Cowan, of the Poverty Alliance, nevertheless described the budget plan as “disappointing”.
He said: “One million people in Scotland – including 230,000 children – are currently living in the grip of poverty, and this budget offered the opportunity to take the urgent action needed to loosen this grip.
“We – along with other anti-poverty groups, children’s charities, trade unions and faith leaders, have been calling on the Scottish Government to bring forward the delivery of the new income supplement, which is due to be introduced by 2022, and to deliver the supplement by topping up child benefit.
“We called for this because it would unlock tens of thousands of children from poverty, and because families living in poverty now cannot wait until 2022.
“That this has not been included in the draft budget is disappointing and represents a missed opportunity. However, given the cross-party commitment to solving poverty in Scotland we trust that it will be a focus of budget debates and negotiations.”
Campbell Robb (pictured), chief executive of the independent Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said: “The Scottish Government is right to make tackling poverty a top priority.
“It is unacceptable that one million people in Scotland are trapped in poverty.
“The proposals outlined in today’s draft Budget show a willingness to act.
“However, current reforms fall significantly short of the bold action we need to solve poverty in Scotland.”
Polly Jones, project manager of A Menu for Change, said: “Across Scotland, a fifth of single parents are wondering where their next meal is coming from and this budget fails to provide any immediate answers.
“It’s particularly disappointing that Ministers appear to have missed the chance to properly resource the Scottish Government’s own emergency pot, the Scottish Welfare Fund, which hasn’t had a penny more since it began in 2013.
“It is vital that the Fund can provide a lifeline for people who can’t afford to feed themselves or their families.
“It’s time to prioritise preventing poverty, and ensuring that anyone who falls through the gaps is caught by Scotland’s social security safety net.”
Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Joseph Rowntree Foundation.